Houko Kuwashima interview, Sept 2017

Published in Bandai Visual’s V-Storage promotional magazine, September 14, 2017. See the full magazine here.

Houko Kuwashima plays Yuki Mori, the heroine of this story. We talked about the sights of Chapter 3, Pure Love Chapter, which will soon premiere in theaters.

The ideal female image is concentrated into a charismatic icon

Interviewer: What was your impression of the Yuki Mori character before you played her?

Kuwashima: I didn’t have a firm image of her since I’m not from the Space Battleship Yamato generation. But since a sound director used her as an example while I was recording other works, I thought “Yuki Mori” was alive in everyone. The ideal female image of that time was concentrated into an incredible charismatic icon, wasn’t it?

Interviewer: How did you actually play Yuki Mori in the previous work, Yamato 2199?

Kuwashima: I intended to play her without keeping too much to the image. Since I’m always chosen by audition for any work, I try to perform in response to the staff’s feelings. Yuki already existed before I got the script, but since we were trying to create a contemporary Space Battleship Yamato, my role was only to play the Yuki depicted there.

Yamato’s long voyage to Telezart continues with the
thoughts of every crew member on board.

My thought was to not play the role too captive to that image. Since Yuki’s responses to any given situation were quite natural, there wasn’t much of a sense that the role would be difficult. I wondered if I could bring this sort of beautiful girl you long to be like a little closer to the present age. (Laughs) Rather than an icon, I feel like the woman who came together in front of me for 2199 was more familiar and real. Even Daisuke Ono [Susumu Kodai] said so. I was able to create the role in a new form without being limited by the original image.

Interviewer: Now that Yamato 2202 is set three years later, what are you conscious of in recreating the role?

Kuwashima: I feel that the expression and design have a little more adult atmosphere, but I don’t specifically think about making her three years older. (Laughs) Since the period between recording 2199 and 2202 is the same, I leave it to a natural flow.

Interviewer: What are your impressions of the staff’s explanation before the voice recording started?

Kuwashima: Sound Director Tomohiro Yoshida said, “Kodai and Yuki are going to have some rough developments in the future, so please do your best.” (Laughs) So I watched Farewell to Yamato and I was devasted. The writer Harutoshi Fukui said “I wouldn’t make a hopeless story” at the production presentation [September 2016] so I think I’m okay, but I’m at the mercy of the words of people around me. (Laughs)

Kodai is forced to choose again and again. Responsibility
weighs heavily on the acting captain.

Because the theme of this work is “love,” even though I sort of think the relationship of Kodai and Yuki will surely be tested in the future, I have the feeling we are going to connect with the written words in the script. When we did the voice recording for Chapter 3, I was impressed when Mr. Fukui said “Episode 9 is a decisive point.” Yuki is in Episode 9, so if anything, Kodai should be the one in trouble. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Yuki didn’t appear very much in Chapter 1 Beginning Chapter or Chapter 2 Launch Chapter, and it was mostly in scenes where the relationship with Kodai wasn’t going well. How did you perform in such a difficult situation?

Kuwashima: Looking at it as a woman, Kodai’s words and attitudes against Yuki are pretty frustrating. Thanks to those who believe in me like Shima, I kept it to myself that I thought Yuki could somehow perservere. Yamato launched and I had four episodes off from voice recording. I was surprised because I didn’t expect to take so much time off. I thought it would come up immediately that Yuki had boarded Yamato, but surprisingly it didn’t. Even Mr. Ono said “Yuki isn’t showing up. Everyone’s worried,” to which I started saying on the sly, “Yeah, I suppose they would be. It’s been a little too long. After a while, nobody will miss me at all.”

Yuki conveys pure love toward Kodai by suffering in her own way.

In the scene where I meet Kodai again in Episode 8, I put very little emotion in my first line, and the staff said, “That’s scary…” (Laughs) I re-recorded it with a suppressed performance. Yuki is not very honest with Kodai, and because there are so few lines it’s hard to play an emotional scene. Those two confirmed their love for each other after the voyage of 2199, but Yuki had no memory before that and didn’t see Teresa, so she has nothing to spare.

Since there was the crisis of battle in everyday life, I think there’s a place that exceeds the usual romance of men and women. Within that, it seems very much like Yuki to get on board Yamato silently. I think that’s also a form of love, and she’s doing it for herself more than for Kodai. It’s a “she keeps a delicately trembling thing hidden inside of herself that she doesn’t let out too much,” sort of thing, I guess. Most of the staff at the recording site are men, so it’s annoying that there aren’t many people who I can consult with on matters of a woman’s heart. (Laughs)

I feel like this is a prelude of the trials in store for Kodai and Yuki

Interviewer: On the key visual for Chapter 3, we see the figures of Kodai and Yuki hugging with Yamato behind them. What was your impression of that and the subtitle Pure Love Chapter?

Kuwashima: I was honestly surprised that the third chapter would be such a story. I was surprised at the title Pure Love, which was a word I didn’t even consider myself. But I thought it was tied into the decisive point Mr. Fukui made some time ago.

Interviewer: Please tell me about points you recommend in Chapter 3.

Kuwashima: Saito works hard in it. Since there aren’t many people who will contradict Kodai, Saito has a real presence in this area. The identity and speculations about Gatlantis become clearer and Touko Katsuragi is as enigmatic as ever, so watch closely in that area, too.

Interviewer: In conclusion, please give your message to the fans looking forward to Chapter 3.

Kuwashima: With chapters 1 and 2, there’s a chance to say nice comments like, “I know the old work and it comes through wonderfully” and the expectations increase from one chapter to the next. In Chapter 3, I think the route of 2202 changes away from the original and it feels like a prelude to the trials in store for Kodai and Yuki. I’m able to appear at last, and I wonder if Yuki’s journey will start from here. I’ll never get off Yamato again! (Laughs)

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